One of the questions about U.S.-led war in Libya is the scope of the conflict. Some rebel forces seem to want more U.S. military action. The Washington Post reportstoday (3/29/11) that this is already happening. Under the headline”U.S. Deploys Low-Flying Attack Planes,” Greg Jaffe explains:
The U.S. military dramatically stepped up its assault on Libyan government ground forces over the weekend, launching its first missions with AC-130 flying gunships and A-10 attack aircraft designed to strike enemy ground troops and supply convoys.
The use of the aircraft, during days of heavy fighting in which the momentum seemed to swing in favor of the rebels, demonstrated how allied military forces have been drawn deeper into the chaotic fight in Libya. A mission that initially seemed to revolve around establishing a no-fly zone has become focused on halting advances by government ground forces in and around key coastal cities.
The obvious implication is that the United States is involved more deeply that we’ve been led to believe. And the Post has known this for some time:
The Washington Post learned of their deployment last week but withheld reporting the information until their first missions at the request of U.S. military officials.
Why did the Post keep this information from readers? The Post adds:
Military officials consider AC-130s and A-10s well suited to attacks in built-up areas, although their use has led to civilian deaths. Unlike fighter jets and bombers, which typically carry 500- or 1,000-pound bombs, the AC-130s and A-10s deliver more discriminate but still devastating machine-gun fire.
The article adds that “AC-130s were used to great effect during the two U.S. offensives in Fallujah, a stronghold of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq in the early days of the Iraq war.” If this is a preview of what is to come, it is an ominous development.